Linguist, philologist and educator who dedicated himself to studying the Spanish language. His vast research is fundamental for the study of the evolution of Spanish as spoken in Puerto Rico.
Manuel Alvarez Nazario was born in Aibonito on February 7, 1924, the son of Manuel Alvarez Valverde, Galician by ancestry, and María Luisa Nazario Díaz, from Coamo. He completed his primary studies in his hometown and, after the death of his father when he was just nine years old; he went to the Island Home for Boys in Santurce, where he attended elementary and middle school.
After graduating from the Central High School of Santurce, Alvarez Nazario began studies at the Normal School of the University of Puerto Rico and left in 1943 to begin working as a teacher in Salinas. He returned to San Juan to continue his studies at the same institution. He earned a bachelor of arts degree with a concentration in education in 1948. He continued his studies with a masters degree in Spanish studies and worked as a professor of Spanish at the Agriculture and Mechanical Arts College in Mayaguez (University of Puerto Rico) while he wrote his doctoral thesis, titled El arcaísmo vulgar en el español de Puerto Rico, which he presented in 1950. In 1954, he completed his Ph.D. with a specialization in Spanish linguistics at the University of Madrid.
In 1957, Alvarez Nazario published his doctoral dissertation, El arcaísmo vulgar en el español Puerto Rico, followed in 1961 by El elemento afronegroide en el español de Puerto Rico, a work that won the Institute of Puerto Rican Literature prize. Another important book by him, La herencia lingüística de Canarias en Puerto Rico; estudio histórico-dialectal (1972), also won the Institute of Puerto Rican Literature prize. Later, he published El influjo indígena en el español de Puerto Rico (1977) and Proceso en el tiempo del español en Puerto Rico (1980).
Along with his wife, literary historian Josefina Rivera de Alvarez, he published, in 1981, the Antología general de la literatura puertorriqueña: prosa, verso, teatro. In 1982, his book Orígenes y desarrollo del español en Puerto Rico (siglos XVI y XVII) won awards from the Institute of Puerto Rican Literature, the Augusto Malaret Lexicography Institute and the PEN Club of Puerto Rico.
Other books of his about the language as spoken in Puerto Rico are Introducción al estudio de la lengua española (1984), El habla campesina del país; orígenes y desarrollo del español en Puerto Rico (1990) and Historia de la lengua española en Puerto Rico (1991).
Alvarez Nazario published many articles in both local and international academic journals, among them “El arahuaco insular: sustrato lingüístico de las Antillas Mayores y Menores” (1969), “Adaptación fonética al español antillano de los tainismos recibidos durante la primera mitad del siglo XVI” (1971), “Consideraciones críticas sobre la enseñanza tradicional de la lengua española en Puerto Rico” (1983) and “El tema del negro en la literatura puertorriqueña (acercamiento lingüístico a su estudio)” (1990).
He was a member of the Puerto Rico Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Puerto Rican Academy of History, and the Puerto Rican Academy of the Spanish Language, of which he was president in 1991. In 1993, he was named, along with his wife, Josefina Rivera de Alvarez, “Humanists of the Year” by the Puerto Rican Endowment for the Humanities, an award that highlights the work of a Puerto Rican who, through research and teaching, has made a significant contribution to the dissemination of humanities knowledge.
Manuel Alvarez Nazario died April 29, 2001, at his home in Mayagüez.
Adapted by the PROE Editorial Group
Original source: Information prepared by the personnel of the Josefina and Manuel álvarez Nazario Collection of the General Library of the Mayaguez Campus of the University of Puerto Rico.
Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: September 15, 2014.
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